Sunday, October 25, 2009

Social Networking Sites for Businesses

Obviously as social networking sites have developed, businesses have cashed in on the opportunity to use them to advertise and promote their products and services. I mean, there's a fan page for practically anything on Facebook, and you can follow updates on all your favorite companies on Twitter, among countless other examples. What's interesting to me, though, is how some businesses are branching even beyond these popular sites to form their own social networking sites.

Let's use a local example: Athens Pyramids. Pyramids is a local hookah bar uptown on Mill Street, and it has established itself as a relaxed environment for students who aren't yet old enough to go to the bars to be able to spend an evening out at.

Well, last year, they started up a website to promote business, http://www.tapcsite.com, and needless to say, it's not the average business web page. People create a profile on the site that they can customize however they'd like, and then they can proceed to engage in a number of activities. In addition to information about the business (general things such as hours, flavors of hookah and whatnot), there are forums promoting events that are held. There are also forums started for just general interest. Members can add friends, and then leave comments on their pages or send them messages. They've really tried to reach out and make it more of a social networking site than your average business webpage.

My question is, is this going too far? Obviously it's a neat idea for the business to have, but I've heard mixed reviews about the Pyramids website. A lot of people like it, however many have the mentality, "I already have a Facebook, I don't need another one. They should just have all their information, maybe a forum to promote events, but they just have a lot of excess stuff." What do you all think? Is this a unique idea that small businesses can benefit from, or is it just a little too much?

And going along with this, because I'm interested, what are some other unique ideas that businesses have come up with that you guys like which utilize social networking sites or something to promote their services?

5 comments:

  1. That is an interesting strategy. I wonder if it is limited by the fact that there are so many places that people can do social-networking type stuff that folks might be near their capacity for that type of thing? I think Jarrid mentioned a Firefox plugin that might organize all these types of things into a single feed, reducing the management costs. I guess that does not really answer your main question. . . perhaps in another comment.

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  2. Yeah, I mean I thought the site was a pretty cool idea when it was first proposed, but then it got to be sort of pointless when everyone who I was friends with on the Pyramids network, I could keep in contact with much more frequently on Facebook (more people remember to check something like Facebook than a small business website).

    I know that one of the things Pyramids is trying to do is to just keep up activity on the site, not just member numbers (they give special deals to "active" members and such). They want people to post their pictures and add to the forums and communicate. I like the whole idea of members creating profiles and uploading pictures and videos of their experience; maybe like a personal Flickr in a way, haha. But as far as everything else goes, it does seem a bit over the top.

    It just seems to me like the only businesses who have managed this kind of web page successfully have been for things started online to begin with; Facebook, Myspace, Reddit, Last.fm, etc. I think...does that make sense?

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  3. It's like, if you want to communicate with our demographic, you have to start on Facebook, so we can fan you. Then, the business can offer us things that way, e.g. the Sephora fan page talks about special sales an coupons, if I'm not mistaken.

    I guess the advantage to a business having their own site would be the ability to have more control over the business's image, instead of the clean blue and white lines of Facebook.

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  4. I think the business was trying to become popular and spread the word about their business to make capital! It's really what it boils down to. It's a strategy that could work and make it popular for a while, but like you said there are other methods to keep in touch with your friends. And they use incentives for their active members, to have them come back so they can make moeny.

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  5. I was looking for articles on uses of professional social networking and I came across yours inspiring read. Thanks man!

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